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European Court of Human Rights wants answers from UK on Gurkha pensions

The UK government has been given until 20th May to answer questions posed by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on the equal pension rights of the Gurkhas.

Lawyers representing the Gurkha’s long court battle, Slater and Gordon, originally filed papers with the ECHR in August 2011 and welcome the news that the Court has progressed the case to the next stage.

The British Gurkha Welfare Society is in dispute with the Ministry of Defence about the terms on which they are offering to transfer pensions for those who have fought in the Brigade of Gurkhas of the British Army.  

In proceedings first launched in March 2008, members of the British Gurkha Welfare Society argued that limiting changes to the pension of retired Gurkhas to service accrued after 1997 comprised Age Discrimination - contrary to the convention. Their court action has been unsuccessful in the High Court and Court of Appeal but will now be determined in Strasbourg at the ECHR. The argument advanced for equal pensions applies to Gurkhas who were discharged both before and after 1 July 1997.

Tikendra Dewan, Chair of the British Gurkha Welfare Society said:

 “We are delighted the European Court of Human Rights has recognised the validity of our case by progressing it to the next stage.

“We have faith that truth will prevail and 200 years of exploitation in the name of friendship will be exposed. We hope the loyalty and trust of the Gurkhas will be justified in the Court’s decision.

“The British Ghurka Welfare Society was compelled to go to the European Court of Human Rights when the UK failed to deliver justice by limiting access to pensions for those who have fought under the Union Jack.”
 
Edward Cooper, Slater and Gordon, who is acting for the Gurkhas in these proceedings, said:

“The failure of the Government to address this long standing inequity will soon be determined by the European Court of Human Rights.

“The warm words often expressed by successive Governments about the loyalty and service of Gurkhas have not been matched by their pension treatment, and it is shame that those who have represented the UK to such great effect over many decades have to take their battle to Strasbourg."